A Sales Kit for a Girl Scout

The Girl Scouts have been around for a hundred year, and they’ve been selling cookies for much of that time. Consistently and successfully. While data from the earliest of cookie sales isn’t around, we do know that since 1999, cookie sales have hovered around $700 million. Not too shabby for a longtime door-to-door operation. What many people don’t realize is that the cookie operation is fairly sophisticated, and every Girl Scout has a sales kit that could double as an arsenal. Minnesota organization Sunrise Packaging doesn’t deal in cookies, foods or this kind of box, but we have to give it up to this organization for a job well marketed.

sales kit

Tween Cookie Queens & Their Go-To Sales Kit Pitch

Any reservations you might have about taking sales advice from little girls should dissipate in the knowledge that these girls sell between 1500-3600 boxes every year. Find what tools they carry in their sales kit that you can apply to your own design:

It can pay to be a little daring

A New York Girl Scout uses an upselling tactic that appeals to easing the transaction for clients–in this case, when it comes to math. One box of cookies is $4, and the client wants to buy two…but they only have a $20 bill. The savvy Scout makes it easier to suggest buying 5 boxes. Fewer bills, more cookies (that are freeze-able, gift-able, etc), it’s a win-win situation. Find those opportunities within your own business to integrate into a sales kit.

Balance modernity with tradition

A Connecticut Girl Scout finds modern ways to connect with customers from beyond her door-to-door sales. She created a parody of Adele’s ‘Hello’, replacing the lyrics to reference cookie selling…and driving traffic to her own cookie-selling website. It’s the goal of any marketing tactic, but it plays on the current societal state of mind (i.e. Adele as one of the most popular artists out there) while driving traffic. It’s a testament to being current and having a grasp on the public consciousness, particularly what will resonate.

Know your product…and be honest

This has been one of the most popular posts in social media for a while, so you might already know about the New Jersey Girl Scout whose brutally honest reviews of cookies was shared by Mike Rowe. It might seem counter-intuitive to marketers, but it’s a smart tactic to acknowledge the flaws in a product. It shows awareness and, hopefully, intent to fix those flaws.

Building a Sales Kit With Intention

The goal of a sales kit is, naturally, to generate sales. What these Girl Scouts can teach us, when it comes to generating sales, is that having a little more intention, like fundraising, can add to the overall goodwill. It also helps that this is one of the most recognizable brands out there. Iconic packaging design that meets customer expectations is another part of the successful Girl Scout brand recipe. It’s an organization that has been around for a long time, and with this level of savvy sales ingenuity, could move into the future with ease. Although, we might recommend a more rigid custom box to stop those annoying broken cookies in the future!

Vinyl Packaging Revamped for 2016

While my parents don't admit to being hippies, their record collection tells another story.  My youth is peppered with memories set to music, not unlike an episode of "The Wonder Years." I remember running my fingers over vinyl packaging, picking out albums with intriguing album art (The Who's "Tommy" stands out in my mind) or Cream's "Wheel of Fire." I loved the velvet tones of vinyl, and the way the sound seems to fill a space. At some point, the needle on the turntable broke and didn't get replaced. We got a CD player, the records were boxed up and piled in a closet, and the beat went on. 

Since then, music has changed form a few more times. First from CDs to MP3 players like the iPod, and then to streaming with early adopters on Pandora, but now we've entered into an interesting era. In 2016, every sales channel music is slumping except for two: streaming (up 50%) and vinyl (up 11%). I don't think this is a coincidence. There's no ownership associated with streaming. Listeners can quickly sample songs and artists--literally millions of both--for either no fee or a nominal one. When listeners connect with an artist deeply, they want to invest in an experience. That's where vinyl trumps CDs, iTunes, any other form of listening experience. 

Naturally, I know I might be a little biased given my childhood love for vinyl. But there's a tangible experience that comes with holding vinyl packaging and dropping that needle, and I think there's a kind of craving for that kind of close-up sentimentality. Of course, there's more to it than that, and TuneCore has a few more ideas as to why vinyl and vinyl packaging is making a resurgence. 

Vinyl Packaging

Vinyl Packaging as a Form of Art

Whether your shelve it or frame it, album art has the potential to be iconic. Just look at The Beatles' "Sergeant Pepper" album cover. And in 2016, it's risen beyond just the album cover to origami and custom box level.

Vinyl is Tangible

I love Spotify, but here's the thing: you can't leave MP3s or Spotify playlists to your kids, or frame your favorites to put on the wall. You can't have your favorite artists sign the album like vinyl packaging. Digital has a lot of positives, but also a lot of tradeoffs.

Vinyl Goes Mobile

The majority of records purchased today also include a download code so users not only have their gorgeous album, but can also download the tunes to their mobile devices or computers for listening. Amazon is an early pioneer in providing the MP3s along with vinyl purchases.

Vinyl Sounds Off

Vinyl packaging is superior, there's no loss in mobility, so how can it get better for vinyl fans? It usually comes down to the strongest argument...sound quality:

Sound is a range of frequencies. When there is a complete presentation of frequencies that diminishes as the frequency increases, the sound seems to be more complete. Vinyl tends to present the widest range of frequencies due to its analog-to-analog production process. Digital music, because of its compression to keep file sizes manageable, doesn’t present as much of a continual range

When people make this argument, it's a passionate, emotional one.  And it's one echoed by an entire community of people who keep vinyl alive through patronizing smaller shops and hunting through garage sales as well as shopping online. Don McLean may have thought the music died, but it's alive and well decades later. 

Nifty Netbox PopUp Palettes

In honor the recent release (and soon-to-be sold out) Urban Decay Through the Looking Glass eye shadow palette, I decided to revisit the original Alice in Wonderland palette (though note that these are not Sunrise products). What I love about these palettes is, first and foremost, the eye shadow selection. Urban Decay is super pigmented without feeling heavy or weighty, making it easy to vary the intensity. Secondly, the packaging for these palettes is always fun and interesting. The magnetic closure, or netbox, as Sunrise calls them, adds an interesting element. It helps ensure that what lies beneath that top flap stays secure and accessible for days to come. The drawer feature is one of my favorite features. It’s great to pull it out, see all the colors at once, and formulate your blending plan.

alice in wonderland netbox urban decay

Courtesy of Urban Decay

Alice in Wonderland vs. Through the Looking Glass Netbox

The obvious precursor to Through the Looking Glass. The original Alice palette netbox takes obvious inspiration from the original illustrations for Alice in Wonderland. Whimsical mushrooms swirl around the mirror in the pop up portion, the caterpillar looms over Alice, and it’s basically a must-have for literary Alice memorabilia fans and collectors. This was one of the first palettes for which I popped the $60, and the one that made me a convert.

As one of those people, the fact that there are no original shades in this palette isn’t as much of a bummer as it would be others.  That might sound surprising, but Urban Decay is notorious for re-purposing older shades in palettes. But it can be frustrating, so it pays to do your research prior to investing in a palette. From a purely financial standpoint, it’s a steal to get 16 eye shadows, two mini eyeliners, and a mini primer potion for that price. Buying each individually would run around $200. Granted, these are smaller than you would buy individually, but still it’s still a better deal.

through the looking glass urban decay netbox

Photo courtesy of Bustle.com

On the other hand, Through the Looking Glass makes up for it. With 20 new shades and a great design, this netbox delivers in more ways than one. One frequent offenses of the pop-up palettes is that they tend to skew toward the glittery-shimmery side of things, but there’s a good amount of matte shades for change. Another deviation in this palette is the organization of colors. They’re organized into columns according to character. Depending on how creative you are, this might make blending easier or feel limiting. I tend toward the former.

What’s your favorite palette and why?

The Evolution of Smart Packaging

evolution_of_smart_packaging

The evolution of smart Packaging has progressed very quickly. Just a few years ago, smart packaging meant a label on a box with a tracking number, or even more advanced: a barcode readable by a laser scanner. In more recent years, the QR Code, short for Quick Response, became so popular that it was hard to find an advertisement without one. Scannable by a smartphone, a QR code would bring an interested user to a website, tutorial video, or social media account. They became almost fashionable. Websites spawned to generate and track QR codes for the purposes of trend following. It looked like the new wave in online marketing strategy.

And yet, today, if you were to Google ‘smart packaging’ QR codes would be the farthest from. While they are still an easy, worthwhile asset, smart or intelligent packaging has moved into an almost science-fiction-like state. Slim microchips that detect if food is rotting is included in packaging to help specify ‘sell by’ dates. One step further, nano-technology in packaging may actually inhibit mold and microbe growth.

Where once packaging was meant to be kept secular from the product inside, it’s now directly linked to it. That is an evolution in packaging in general. Boxes that are more than just a vessel of delivery, but actually sustain the contents. Support it and promote it.

So while the distinction is smart packaging is splintering–active packaging, intelligent packaging, etc–the rate at which innovation is being made is exponential across the board. Slim micro-screens and app interaction have teamed up to make “virtual mirrors” for cosmetic products. The eerie sounding “augmented human” trend could let consumers try on makeup at the store without ever putting anything on their skin.

In some ways, the future of packaging is in flux. There’s always a call for less wasteful packaging, but with the technologies listed above, paired with anti-theft measures, marketing tactics, and procedural instructions, one could argue packaging is more important than ever.

More:

Packaging Digest

Mintel

Image: Packaging Digest

Star Wars: The Brand Awakens

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Star Wars is back. Last night, after a long, excruciating wait I finally saw The Force Awakens. Without spoilers: it was incredible. And today I woke up (we’ll pretend I actually slept) and I thought How can I tie this into packaging so I can blog about it? I’ve only ever done it here. And here. Also here.

Fortunately, I thought of something.

In all seriousness, this one’s a doozy. Branding. It’s at the heart of everything we do. Every logo we put on a flash drive, every custom box we foil stamp, we are helping businesses build a stronger brand image. Something so memorable that a customer associates the product with a solution. It’s the backbone of marketing, retail presence, and the aesthetics of packaging. And nobody does branding better than Star Wars.

Although some might say that lately there has been an…abundance of Star Wars branded merch. At a cocktail party, I would say to that too much Star Wars is better than no Star Wars! But, professionally, I would say this:

Star Wars licensing is an interesting story, historically-speaking. Starting back in the 70s when George Lucas managed to retain licensing rights. This was rather unheard of, but technically the Star Wars films are indie flicks. Especially the Prequel trilogy, almost exclusively funded by Lucas himself. But what a payoff, right? Think of every product you’ve seen with the Star Wars logo slapped on it.

Of course, Lucas sold the property to Disney. To the tune of $4 billion. Insert R2-D2 wail here. As big a company as Disney is, you can’t blame them for trying to turn a profit on their investment. Think about this: The Force Awakens has earned $100 million in advance ticket sales, but that’s still only 1/40th of what they paid for the franchise. Add to that the actual cost of making a special effects blockbuster and you realize they have a long way to go. Brand away!

star_wars_brand_duracell_batteries

Image: Duracell

But how come other movies don’t do that? Well other movies are usually set in modern, Earth-based times, and fill their shots with branded items and product placement. Unfortunately for Star Wars, a character can’t whip out an iPad or use a Samsung lightsaber to offset the cost. Thus, you can’t fault the franchise for allowing Star Wars batteries to exist.

Whether you think there’s too much Star Wars in the world or not, you can’t deny the power of branding. It’s more than just your logo on your product, it’s building a legacy. An empire, if you will. Familiarity is key to building market trust, and what’s more familiar than a brand that is everywhere?

So, as in all things, take a page from Star Wars. When it comes to custom branded packaging, do or do not–there is no try. At Sunrise Packaging, we sincerely hope you do. And when it comes time to design that perfect packaging solution, remember that ours are the best in the galaxy.

Cookie Packaging Gets Customized for the Holidays

oreo colorfilled cookie packaging

It’s Monday, so let’s talk cookies!

Suppose it should be about cookie packaging. Looks like Oreo is the latest in the lineup to give their packaging a dose of customization. In fact, they’re putting YOU in the driver seat.

Just in time for the holidays, the infamous sandwich cookie has rolled out a new line of Colorfilled packaging designed by New York-based artists Timothy Goodman and Jeremyville. The current designs are heavily pop art-inspired, quite literally filled to the brim with stylized seasonal goodness. As far as colors go….you get to pick them! That’s right, the packaging is customized on the spot. Want Santa to have a blue beard? Then Merry Christmas to you! Add little accessories like winter hats and scarves, fun phrases with classic cookie at the center, and even personalize it with your message.

say something sweet custom oreo cookie packaging

When your design is complete, you can actually get it made and filled with Oreos. The custom package holds 14.3 ounces of creme-filled bliss. That’s almost a pound of cookies! For craftier cookie lovers, the packaging also comes in simple black-and-white (much like the cookies themselves) with a set of markers to be colored in by the recipient. Mad props if you can color the whole bag before opening it.

Munchies aside, the packaging is beautiful, unique, and personalized making a bag of Oreos an even better gift idea. (Even if it’s a gift to yourself.)

Custom gift boxes and personalized retail packaging is an important aspect to remember this time of year. The attention these boxes draw is marketing that you cannot afford to miss out on. Not to mention it makes whatever’s inside that much sweeter. In the case of the new Oreo packaging, truer words have never been spoken. But presentation pieces like it are always the smart (and stylish) choice for packaging upscale products.

Images: shop.oreo.com

How a Custom Wrap Affects Customers

SoftTouch


The heart (or maybe the skin) of luxury packaging is the custom wrap material. From plain paper adorned with digital print to exotic textures and patterns meant to replicate snakeskin or cheetah spots, the appearance of a box is first and foremost the eye-catcher. I like to think of the custom box material as the first line of advertising. If you can’t stand out on the shelf, how are you going to compete at the brick and mortars?

Tactile and Tactical

If the look is the first line, the feel of custom packaging is the second. But this tactile phase in the retail battle is arguably the most important. There’s something about actually holding a product that really turns things up to 11.

I used to work at a big-chain retail store. We’d often had “contests” which were more like daily sales goals for a specific product. If it was some sort of plush or pillow, I knew it was game over. All I had to do was hand the product to somebody, let them walk around the store with it, and by checkout time, they just had to buy it. Why? Because you just can’t help grow attached to something you’re holding onto. But if you don’t have a sales floor extraordinaire like myself hoisting your product into the empty arms of consumers, then you have to go for the next best thing: the two-punch combo of attractive and tactilely-pleasing packaging. The custom box that you just have to pick up, and that you just can’t put down.

Sure, it all boils down to the product within, but you can’t deny the power of a first impression. It’s just as true for luxury packaging, if not moreso.

Packaging manufacturers are always looking for the next big trend in materials, textures, wraps, and designs. And we love a good challenge. The old “form follows function” has given us some very distinct/cool/practical/innovative box designs. But inventing a texture is even trickier. A recent story from Packaging Europe tells the tale of a how a company’s request for a very specific paper lead one of the oldest paper mills to create one of the newest trends in packaging.

Are You Swayed by Suede?

James Cropper, a “luxury paper” company, was asked by Spain-based LOEWE to create a paper with a feel of suede for their new product packaging. Carvetian Suede–so named for James Cropper’s historical stomping ground–is a textured paper that mimics the feel of suede. Not only does it feel like the classy material, but it improves upon it by being biodegradable. James Cropper uses at least 40% recycled materials to create this exotic custom wrap.

Carvetian Suede custom wrap material by James Cropper

Maybe you don’t have to wrap your box in suede, but the lesson here is to always be mindful of your product packaging. The luxury in “luxury packaging” shouldn’t be mistaken for frivolous or exorbitant. What it’s really about is showing your customers you believe in your product, that you value it. And, perhaps more importantly, that they will too.

Image: jamescropper.com

Wrap Rage is a Thing

VaporTrail-225It’s pretty common knowledge that thermoformed packaging is tough to open. Especially if the edges are factory sealed, or there aren’t easy-to-understand opening instructions. I thought it was just one of those things. You know, like ‘dogs chase cars’ or ‘bees sting.’ But now I know it’s not just a thing, it’s a Thing.

Wikipedia defines Wrap Rage as “the common name for heightened levels of anger and frustration resulting from the inability to open hard-to-open packaging.” It’s further defined as any packaging that claims to be easy-open but is, in actuality, nearly impossible. Such was the case of a vacuum-packed sausage for columnist Lori Borgman. She had to go through two sets of shears to get at her dinner.

Speaking of shears, products are even banking on wrap rage for their marketing plan. A cursory examination of one wrapragecure.com will eventually reveal itself as an advertisement for a product called the Open It™, a fancy-schmancy scissors for opening blister packaging. However, the irony is not lost on me that the Open It™ itself is encased in one of the tightest thermoformed plastic bubbles I’ve ever seen. A chicken-or-the-egg scenario if I ever saw one.

Open It_the wrap rage cure

Image: Bed Bath and Beyond

But even Borgman, sausage sufferer extraordinaire, admits that blister packaging is a necessary evil. Why? Because it’s still one of the top theft deterrents on the market. Or rather, in it. Blister packs and retail go together like peanut butter and jelly. Gold standard. As much as we may dread the eternal struggle that comes from purchasing a blister-packed product, we know that the reason the product was even there to purchase is because that plastic bubble protected it.

Products in stores aren’t supposed to be easy to open! Hello! It’s a sad fact that folks will steal anything not nailed down. I knew someone back in high school that stole display frames from eyeglass stores. For Display Only printed on the plastic lenses and all! But much the way animals know to avoid electrified fences, we humans know not to bother with stealing blister packaged items. The battle too exhausting, the sound too loud, and the risk too great. Therein lay the beauty of custom blister packaging.

Not too mention the reasonably low cost of thermoformed plastic packages means that virtually any product can enjoy the protection. Because people steal low ticket items too, let’s be honest.

So even though wrap rage is a thing, we all accept it. And there are options to making even hard-to-open packaging into easy-open. (Clear instructions being a biggie.) So next time you nick your thumb trying to open that pair of headphones, replace that expletive with a hearty Thanks, Blister Packaging! You’re just doing your job! I get it!

Premium Packaging Just as Important for E-Retailers

customized magnetic boxes with turned edges and soft touch lamination,

We’ve made a case or two (or three, or five) for how important presentation packaging is to the retail market. Custom retail boxes adorned with the trappings of luxury packaging are the eye-catchers and head-turners of brick and mortar stores. Think about it–how many times have you been drawn to some creative or colorful packaging only to find out it’s something you’re not in the market for. But maybe you became in the market for it.

That’s how it works. At Sunrise, we consider premium retail packaging is the first line of offense in a good marketing strategy. (It’s also the first line of defense in theft-protection, if you want to get technical.) Wow your audience at the very first site.

This is great for physical locations, but what about the Web? E-retailers (think Amazon) have stuck mainly to simple corrugated cardboard packaging. After all, a box for shipping just needs to be functional, right? Not according to a new article from Independent Retailer urging eTailers to “ditch the brown box.”

Dotcom Distribution’s Maria Haggerty’s stance on internet retailer packaging is fueled by points similar to the case for standard retail packaging. The main point seems to be that no matter the source, packaging for e-retailers needs to fulfill the same goals. Turn heads and catch eyes. Add value to the product within. Make you as a consumer feel good about your purchase. Even when you know what’s inside, there is something sort of empty about tearing into a plain cardboard box.

Haggerty goes on to mention how important premium packaging is to social media. From unboxing videos to packaging damaged in shipment, retail packaging makes its way into social forums. When a box is beat up in transit, most of the time folks will take to social media, telling their story and even posting pics to Facebook, Twitter, etc. Haggerty believes this tradition of only posting the bad can be combatted by high-quality and highly creative packaging. Something that’s worth posting just because it’s beautiful or cool. It’s true that people generally find it easier to complain than to boast about products and their packaging, but high-end luxury packaging could be a turning point for that sentiment.

“Forty percent of consumers said branded packaging makes them more likely to share a product image or video on social media, and consumers are 1.5 times more likely to share pictures of gift-like boxes than traditional brown boxes on social platforms.” – Maria Haggerty, Dotcom Distribution

It’s tough to take a side on this one. On one hand, we couldn’t agree more that custom boxes and presentation packaging are a crucial element to sales and marketing a product. On the flip side, it’s hard to deny how perfect corrugated cardboard packaging (aka the old reliable brown box) is for shipping. Ships in flat-packed bulk to start, cushioned along the way, and ends up being recycled thanks to its naturally eco-friendly nature.

Of course, there are middle of the roads to this issue. Our instant rigid boxes, for example, ship flat, but have all the adornments of luxury packaging. E-flute is a corrugated product that can be nearly as flashy as chipboard. And if you’re looking to keep packaging green (a selling point in of itself) there are options such as soy-based inks and aqueous coatings.

Instant Rigid Box_premium packaging trendsElf3

What it comes down to is that packaging can make a product appear to be a gift–even if it’s a gift to yourself–and there’s a certain pride and joy that comes from opening a gift. The retail arena knows this, and it’s time the e-retail business catches up.

5 Cool Features for a Standout Custom Game Box


 

Central City custom game box design, turned edges, offset printing, and glossy lamination

Central City Box Art

I can safely say that board games are the name of the, well, game around my homestead lately. My roommate and I have been spending our spare time discussing everything from hit points to game mechanics to hypothetical company names. Maybe it’s that Gen Con is just around the corner, or that an old friend of mine just launched a Kickstarter campaign for his custom game due out next year, but something is definitely in the air.

 

 

 

The indie custom game scene appears to be at its peak, and I’m absorbed with all the aspects. As much as I’m a geek about story and characters, I’m also a geek about the design side. The game board intrigues me, sure, but I’m what you’d call a custom game box enthusiast too. Between graphics, blurbs, and logos, I love to judge the proverbial book by its cover.

 

Last week, I found myself at a game shop. Surprise surprise. As I made my way up and down the aisles, I tried to keep track of what caught my eye. It wasn’t necessarily the graphics. I mean, sure, a splash of color or a cool character rendering couldn’t hurt your custom game, but what really drew me in was the packaging. An interesting shape or texture. Features.

 

Which of course got me thinking. So if you’re a game designer about to box up your hot new board game, then you may want to consider these…

 

Cool Custom Game Box Features

Handle It

custom handle box

Handle boxes make a great presentation for press kits, but they can also add a little flare to your custom game. A game box that looks like a briefcase or a treasure chest could certainly benefit from this little element. Plus, handles are just plain handy. They make your game easier to transport. Keep your meeples upright, peoples!

 

Magnetic Personality

cigar style magnet box for custom game design

Who doesn’t love magnets? Think about the last time you got a box or a device with a magnet. Now think how much time you spent playing with said magnet. It’s like a game within a game! Okay, maybe I’m just easily entertained, but magnets do add an extra level of security. The smooth snap enclosure also increases the value of your game by leaps and bounds.

 

Sleeves FTW!

example of a heat-sealed sleeve with turned edge printing and lamination

How many times have you had a board game that you loved but lost the rules? Or some other important paper element–a card, or a booklet perhaps? What if you included a sleeve in your custom game. It could safely hold rules, cards, maybe even a custom DVD to go along with your game. You could even utilize the sleeve to create a little window into your game box, another cool design feature!

 

Hold Out for the Fold Out

die-cut custom game board with turned edges and glossy lamination

You might think this idea is bonkers, but I think it’s the next revolution in game design. Folding game boards are pretty standard, but what if your custom game box became your board game! Yeah, I said it! Using buttons, magnets, tuck tabs, it wouldn’t be a stretch for the box could transform into a gameboard. Major cool factor in my book.

 

Notch Your Usual Box

example of custom packaging with thumb notches

Thumb notches, thumb notches, thumb notches. You gotta have the thumb notches, especially when it comes to custom game design. This is true for any box really. This handy little design feature makes your game infinitely easier to open. What’s the point of having thermoformed compartments for all your individual pieces if you’re just going to shake everything loose trying to get the box open. Cards all scattered, meeples everywhere like a mini hurricane hit. A little thumb notch goes a long way.

 

It can be tricky to stand out in any market, but with custom game design on the rise, the market is about to get even bigger. No matter what game box feature you go with, always remember to stand out, make a splash, and blow your audience away!